January 5 (old calendar) / January 18 (new)
Eve of Theophany.
Hieromartyr Theopemptus, Bishop of Nicomedia, and Martyr Theonas (303). Ven. Syncletica of Alexandria (ca. 350). Prophet Micah (9th c. BC). Virginmartyr Apollinaria of Egypt (ca. 470). Ven. Phosterius the Hermit (9th c.). Ven. Menas of Sinai (6th c.). Ven. Gregory of Crete (ca. 820). Ven. Romanos, Martyr (1694).
The Holy Martyrs Theopemptus and Theonas suffered in Nicomedia in the year 303. Saint Theopemptus was bishop in Nicomedia in the time of Diocletian. Speaking out against idolatry, he defended the faith in Christ. Because of this, he became one of the first victims of the Diocletian persecution.
The saint refused to obey the emperor’s order to worship an idol of Apollo. Saint Theopemptus was thrown into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of God he remained alive. The emperor came to the furnace by night with a detachment of soldiers, and there he saw the saint alive and praying to God. Ascribing the miracle to magic, Diocletian thought to exhaust Saint Theopemptus by depriving him of food and drink for twenty-two days, but the martyr was preserved by the will of God.
The emperor brought the famous sorcerer Theonas to overcome Bishop Theopemptus’ supposed magical power. Theonas prepared a poison for Saint Theopemptus, put it into a little cake, and offered it to him to eat. The poison did no harm at all to Saint Theopemptus. Then Theonas tried an even stronger poison on the martyr. Seeing that Saint Theopemptus remained unharmed, he came to believe in Christ. They threw him into prison together with the holy bishop, who taught and baptized him, giving him the name Synesios (which means “full of understanding”).
At dawn Diocletian summoned Saint Theopemptus, and again tried to turn him to pagan impiety. Seeing that the bishop remained firm in his faith, he subjected him to many grievous tortures, after which the saint was beheaded. The holy martyr Theonas refused to offer sacrifice to idols, so he was buried alive in a deep ditch. This occurred at Nicomedia in the year 303.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (Epistle)
- For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
- and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
- to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
- to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
- Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
- Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
- And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
- Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
- But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Luke 3:1-18 (Gospel)
- Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
- while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
- And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
- as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.
- Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth;
- and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
- Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
- And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
- So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
- He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
- Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
- And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
- Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
- Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,
- John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
- And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.